“The test, code-named ‘Trinity,’ took place on July 16 . It exploded with a force equivalent of 18,000 tons of TNT. Recalling the scene, Oppenheimer said: "A few people laughed, a few people cried, most people were silent. There floated through my mind a line from the Bhagavad-Gita in which Krishna is trying to persuade the Prince that he should do his duty [author’s note: and cheerfully kill his relatives in battle]: 'I am become death: the destroyer of worlds.'" http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/bomb/peopleevents/pandeAMEX65.html
LTA, Lighter-than-air transport offers some fascinating possibilities. Dirigibles can provide heavy cargo lift with reduced fuel consumption. Flying cross-country in surprising comfort and at an interesting altitude, passengers could watch the landscape unfold below them at a leisurely pace (say 80 MPH). LTA ships could offload anywhere a modest tower would afford minimal clearance. Many airports – with their problems of noise, pollution and real estate wastage – could be consolidated and removed to distant deserts.
During the Great Paroxysm, a German Zeppelin flew thousands of miles over enemy territory. Its crewmen intended to deliver ten tons of war supplies to their countrymen marooned in German Central Africa. They never made that delivery. Flying across coastal North Africa, they intercepted a bogus radio message that their troops had surrendered. Fully loaded, they made their way back to Central Europe non-stop.
LTA is a glass-jawed technology that presents a large, slow and unarmored target to ground fire, fighter interception, sabotage and bad weather. Its only practical weapons application was escorting American coastal convoys against Nazi submarines. No convoy escorted by dirigibles lost a ship during the war, despite the massacre of unescorted coastal shipping a year prior.
The US Navy developed strategic dirigibles equipped with self-docking fighter aircraft. They were abandoned during their prototype stage, in the 1930s, just prior to the Greater Paroxysm. American battleship admirals ordered the world’s finest airships, their advocate commanders and staunch crews to fly into hurricanes. Storms of this nature wrecked first-class warships from the Navy of both sides, both before and during the Pacific War. None of them would have dared penetrate such a thunderhead with precious airplanes.6
Officials of the British Air Ministry (with visions of Spitfires gleaming in their eyes) did one better. They dispatched the dirigible R101 to India, even though it was so poorly designed it could hardly lift its own weight. After its inevitable crash in a storm, they publicized the disaster so stridently that the popular outcry let them quietly ground the prototype R100 (a much better design) and scrap the entire British dirigible program with hardly any opposition. Rarely have so few done so much to harm to so many.
Peace technicians will find better uses for LTA. The military liabilities that allowed American admirals and British bureaucrats to trash them will be largely irrelevant under peacetime conditions. Modern fabrication and weather forecasting techniques promise to improve LTA safety; gasbags inflated with fireproof helium would eliminate the hazard posed by explosive hydrogen; lighter materials and new construction techniques would produce stronger vessels. The outer covering of the Hindenburg airship, for example, was doped with silver-colored paint that turned out to be high explosive.
Let’s hope we will junk such techno-monstrosities as civilianized strategic bombers, supersonic ozone depleters and high-altitude transport aircraft for main battle tanks. Hundred-ton aircraft would less frequently rake the skies with their contrails of sewage, waste fuel and combustion by-products. The stratosphere – once cloudless and now foggy and seared with ultra-violet – might be allowed to heal. Once our skies are rendered serene yet again, majestic, helium-filled sky sculptures could make a spectacular comeback.
Another promising technology is WIG or Wing-in-Ground flying boats. In great secrecy, under the direction of Rostislav Y. Alexeiev, the Soviets built one-hundred-plus ton Ekranoplans that skimmed the surface of the sea. Relying on surface-effect lift, they could carry enormous payloads across vast distances. Their cruising speed ran as high as 500 KPH (300 MPH) at very low altitude (20 meters); in other words, below most radar scans. And their fuel consumption turned out to be exceptionally low. Once these craft had accelerated to velocities at which the surface-effect took hold, the drag that slows conventional aircraft was reduced. This technology promoted enormous machines, since they derived the most benefit from the surface effect.
As usual, these craft were first deployed as weapon systems. Prototypes were designed to deliver anti-ship missiles or a large number of troops overseas with their light armored vehicles. Fully amphibious, they could fly across flat terrain (beaches, deserts and snow/ice fields) as readily as across calm waters with less than ten-foot waves. Settled on a body of water, they became extremely shallow-draft vessels.
Today, such transports could carry massive freight payloads or many tourists. The idealist Alexeiev intended his Ekranoplans to fulfill just such peaceful functions in the first place.
Getting back to lighter-than-air craft, they could also serve as first stage boosters for space payloads. Large dirigibles could lift heavy space vehicles into the stratosphere and release them to fire up their own rockets at thirty thousand feet. Basically, we would replace the giant first-stage rocket packs we're used to, with a little more payload in a lighter launch vehicle. Post-launch direction-finding has already been perfected in cruise missiles and fighter ejection seats. Rockets launched from dirigible platforms would be cheaper, safer and more ecologically sound than payloads hurled from the ground by the brute force of explosive chemicals.
I am grateful to Doug Dean for this idea—among many more we shared before his regretted demise.
This technology was never adopted. The basic goal of WeaponWorld space programs has been to loft nuclear missiles from concrete silos at an instant’s notice, and incinerate vast cities or smack pinpoint targets with them at intercontinental removes, like enemy missile silos. Giant balloons just won’t fit the bill. So much the better…
Nowadays, Dr. Daniel P. Raymer, President of the Conceptual Research Corporation, is the lead designer of the Dynalifter concept, a hybrid winged dynamic lifter and helium airship “successfully combining the loitering capabilities of airships with the ground handling of fixed-wing aircraft.” The Ohio Airships Company owns the conceptual design and patent rights for its unique internal layout. You can find them at http://www.ohio-airships.com/OhioAirships/. I hope Learner’s enthusiastic endorsement won’t jeopardize their marketing plans.
As well, the French company, Voliris; http://www.latribune.fr/green-business/l-actualite/20120510trib000697948/bientot-des-dirigeables-pour-le-transport-de-fret-.html Also the California-based Worldwide Aeros Corp. whose airships can shift 66 tons of cargo 4,380 miles non-stop at up to 140 miles per hour, with much lower gas consumption compared to cargo aircraft.
While lofting low-orbit space payloads would be within the Dynalifter’s capabilities (along with other valuable civilian applications—think of loitering search-and-rescue and scientific research craft), this project was first proposed as a long-endurance platform for weapons delivery, strategic transport and surveillance. Why am I not surprised?
Just as LTA offers nothing but peace technology potential in the long run, so nuclear and “hot” fusion power plants offer no legitimate function here and now. Nuclear power may perhaps serve a moon-based industrial plant, but none here on Earth.
The problem with nuclear energy is its universal appeal as a self-reinforcing weapon system and its zero potential as a viable peace technology. Face it. Whether through abrupt accident or long-term contamination, nuclear reactors vomit torrents of radioactivity across entire continents. Building a “safe” nuclear reactor is like designing a theft-proof bank or an unsinkable ship―good luck trying.
Our bodies adapted to millions of years of constant background radiation. During the last fifty, this background count has tripled (sextupled, now, with Chernobyl and Fukushima?) due to clumsy accidents, mismanaged pollution and criminal military experiments. In addition, the thinned ozone layer has intensified an electromagnetic blizzard that our bodies, raised under pure Serengeti skies, were never intended to handle. The human body is a raw-nerve recording instrument: a gyroscope, chronometer, oscilloscope, barometer, scintillation counter, gravity meter and multi-band antenna of unmatched delicacy. Who knows what effects this multi-generation bombardment may cause?
As far back as the Joint Atomic Bomb Commission of 1945, both Dr. Averill A. Liebow, the chairman of that official body, and Dr. Alice Stewart, it’s most vocal dissident, asserted that long-term, low-level radiation will be just as harmful to human beings as shorter, more intense bursts of radioactivity. Current efforts to nullify this fact are nauseating.
The ideal resting place for this kind of isotope is in the stable ore seams where they were first dug up. That would sure beat lacing the air and water with them and lodging them in human baby fat at the top of the food chain. We can only hope this idea sinks in permanently and pitchblende mining tails off. Current nuclear policy is suicide by slow poisoning.
When it comes to nuclear technology, Thorium nuclear power plants could offer us a better alternative. They hold significant advantages over Uranium238 equivalents. Thorium ore is available in much greater quantities than Uranium reserves that will soon to run out.
Secondly, Thorium232 reactors do not go critical (unlike so-called pebble bed reactors: a compromise technology, part-Thorium and mostly Uranium). They operate with very hot and highly corrosive fluid but at sea level atmospheric pressure. This is because they use molten Thorium both as their heat source and as their heat transfer fluid instead of Uranium and water, respectively. If the reactors’ plumbing burst, their circulating liquid would fall to reactor the floor, cool, solidify and stop the reaction cold. They would thus be a lot cheaper to build and run than our reactors. Those require costly and unrealistic safeguards against a runaway critical nuclear reaction with its uncontainable radioactivity set loose by swelling explosions of high pressure steam, flash-cooked into high explosive oxygen/hydrogen mixtures.
Thirdly, unlike Uranium reactors, Thorium power plants do not produce weapon-grade material (Uranium235 and Plutonium239) as end products without elaborate additional industrial handling. Finally, the tailings of Thorium reactions have a radioactive half-life of hundreds instead of thousands and millions of years, and are thus easier to store until they are safe.
Uranium238 reactors were favored over the Thorium ones, simply because they produced weapon-grade materials required for the tens of thousands of nuclear weapons humanity saw fit to poison itself with. Thorium reactor research reached the stage of building working models, but was sidelined in favor of Uranium ones; just like solar, water and wind power were sidelined in favor of nuclear, coal and petroleum equivalents. It’s about time we abandoned insane weapon technologies in favor of more rational, peace alternatives.
The main problem with the power source of “hot” fusion is, of course, the countywide crater it could excavate once it went critical. Bets, anyone? Besides, this technology has been declared “possible within the next fifteen years” for the past 75, with no end in sight.
In the meantime, we should improve global energy efficiencies, energy conservation and “soft” power sources. Windmills should carpet every high-wind corridor, and low-impact hydropower plants should dot every receptive waterway.
For generations, overcapitalized nuke and fossil fuel interests (weapon technicians on the march!) have quashed these obvious alternatives. Instead, they’ve carefully subsidized their own nightmare technologies. Big surprise!
During the Greater Paroxysm, multinational fascists hatched a plot to kill off entire peoples whose birth certificates they deemed improperly filled out. They executed their scheme with little interference from the Allies, who never bombed the death camps and their train depots, even though they had flattened the rest of Europe until no targets were left. It would be interesting to list the few strategic factories that were spared this fate in Germany and elsewhere in Europe, and their international owners.
Meanwhile, human prey were entrained to death camps by the millions. There, large concrete bunkers were filled with victims and then with poison gas. With Teutonic efficiency, the end products were shoveled into crematoria, and the victims’ belongings, recycled to finance the Nazi war effort. The dawn of industrial recycling!
These all-too-human fascists discovered, however, that they could never make their death camps efficient enough. For some reason, more victims always emerged than the technical means to dispose of them. There were never enough sociopaths available to guard them while they were being exterminated. So discouraging.
Nowadays, these same brutes have arranged things so that they and their cronies will occupy underground cities crammed with luxury tidbits and survival necessities. Instead of poison gas, they will breathe the purest air modern technology can filter. Once everything has achieved stylish perfection, they plan to flood the planet-turned-crematorium with a century’s output of the most expensive omnicide toxins they could persuade their panicked victims/constituents to bankroll. All those loathsome Others may die en masse, on a planet turned into Belsen—much more efficiently this time.
There has been a lot of empty talk about new world orders and repeated flourishes of treaty ceremonial … more diplomacy down the drain. As well, there have been quite a few mass protest movements against nukes. Globally, all those efforts at condemning this ugly business have sprung up overnight and evaporated just as quickly. Yet nothing serious has been done to avert this truly Final Solution. (“This time, we really mean it!”).
This will be another Learner obligation: cripple these satanic ministries and drive their minions into well-deserved if involuntary retirement.
The threat of military omnicide swells every time another power group comes online with nuclear, chemical, biological and meteorological weaponry. Every time another test nuke explodes, a sleeping Devil blinks.
It is only with our mindless consent that such lunatics could turn this planet into Belsen or threaten to do so. We must have been sleepwalking to entrust our destiny to such ghouls. I would rather that no such Damocles' sword hung over our heads, dangling from a hopeless jumble of military metaphors―no man-made, man-worshipped, man-promised apocalypse and no hundred-trillion-dollar serpentine of genocidal hardware perfectly coiled to strike.
A less watertight corroboration of my thesis would have sufficed me to prove that we are weapon zombies hypnotized by weapon mentality, sleepwalking hand-in-hand into Armageddon. Our blind submission to this nuclear nightmare confirms the death grip that weapon mentality exerts on the collective superconscience.
It’s up to us to extricate ourselves; which means it is up to you. That’s right, Learner, no-one but you!